Monday, September 22, 2008

join me?

I caught a bit of a program the other night, some guy in England started a group called "Join me." The point of it seems to be that a person go about and do something nice for someone else. Very similar to the concept of random acts of kindness.

So yesterday at Safeway, after a brief discussion about poor people, Stella, Soph, and I purchased a roast beef sandwich, a plastic tray of vegetables and dip, a Macintosh apple, and a bottle of vitamin water.

We drove in the direction of downtown. I was hoping to find one of those squeegee kids. I find them infinitely annoying, but upon reflection realized that no young person is out on the streets because their life at home is charming and wonderful. No matter what their house looks like. No one can know what is in a person's heart.

Instead, for some reason, I veered off course and turned right by the Regina Inn. Right away, Stella was pointing out poor people, "Look, there mama, that man, he is poor. And there, that man, he is so sad his head is down." It was true; there was a plethora of downtrodden men.

I drove on. On one hand I thought, if we're doing something good like this, how could anything bad happen to us? On the other, I thought; be realistic. The last thing I need my two daughters to witness is there mother performing a random act of kindness and being beaten to death by a crazy person.

We found a relatively harmless but obviously mentally ill and very poor man sitting on a bench. Looking back, I think I picked him because he looked too fat to chase me.

[*I wondered later; should one of my criteria been a thinner person; someone who looked like they needed the food? No matter; this process will obviously be refined as we get more experienced.]

I pulled up, hopped out of the car and offered the bag of food. "What is it," he said, his voice flat but suspicious, nonetheless.

"Roast beef?" My own voice was questioning; I felt bad. Why had we picked roast beef? Why not the chicken?

He was thoughtful. "I'm going for a lunch at the Soul's Harbour Mission," he said.

"If you'd like to keep it for later, you can," I explained. "Or, I can take it and give it to someone else." We looked at each other. "It's your choice."

His hand didn't let go of the bag. "I can keep it," he said. I said something mundane and got back into my car. He stared at the car as we drove off.

We rounded the corner and drove, by fluke, right past Souls Harbour. I had never seen it before. There were hordes of people inside and more coming down the street. One young man, in his early twenties maybe, was walking down the middle of the street, his stride forceful and his arms swinging. His eyes burned with madness or drugs. We looked right at each other.

A man told me a story when I was little. He saw a poor man and he wanted to help. He bought him some groceries; forty dollars worth. He told me, if he had a million dollars, and he gave one dollar each to a million poor people, it wouldn't even make a dint in the problem. It wouldn't even feed them, not even for one day.

But I think he had it wrong. Even if you feed one person, even one meal, it makes a difference. I want to make sure I tell my girls a different story.


Jen said...

That is awesome!! You're a huge inspiration! And you're girls will be thoughtful secure women.

We've adopted a boy through World Vision in Bolivia named Victor. And so any time we need to make an example of hard work, or gratitude for what we have, we talk about Victor.

Hope it works the way I want it to. Kudos to you for showing them someone receiving an act of kindness from their mother.

Jen said...

That is so kind of you! What a wonderful example for your girls.